Ms Rain-on-the-Parade Gremlin is quickest off the block. She says:
‘You could go on a ride on your own instead. It’ll be sunnier later in the afternoon anyway.’
‘You’d save the £15 entry fee.’
‘You wouldn’t have to get up so early – and would be free to choose what route you do when.’
‘Since you watched that movie last night, you didn’t get to bed early and prepare for the ride properly anyway.’
‘No one will notice or care if you don’t go.’
How easy it would be to stay in bed – oh yes. Sometimes, it must be said, I’ve listened to that gremlin and done just that. However, I’ve had too many instances recently where I’ve not pushed myself a bit to do something, and the result has been nothing but a low mood, comfort eating, and/or faffing around and feeling lonely and dissatisfied with myself. Blech.
So, thank goodness, Wise Bonnie reminds me of all that, and somehow makes herself gently but firmly heard above all the clatter the Gremlin is dishing out:
‘You know you’ll feel better for going and seeing some friends.’
‘You know you’ll feel better by ensuring that you do get out and ride now – you know you enjoy getting the fresh air, and helping your muscles become fitter and stronger.’
‘If you go to the Cogfest you’ll be part of something bigger. It will be fun, too! You’ll feel better for following through with your plan.’
I’m so glad I listened to Wise Bonnie in the end, and went to the event. Indeed I had a lovely day, and felt nourished. Why exactly, you might ask?
I felt buoyed up by seeing a few cycling club friends, and chatting to a few people I didn’t know. I got to be part of the group photo of the cycling club in all our pink splendour (I'm the second on the left below).
My lungs had more oxygen pumped through them – and I felt totally chilled out.
Plenty of freewheeling thinking time. The kind of freer thinking I do when hill walking or cycling has more air in it – literally and figuratively. I could have missed out entirely on all of it.
The feeling of achievement because I’d overcome my doubting voices and gotten my butt out there.
I ended up riding the last 5 miles with a woman who, it turned out, was friends with someone I knew. Chatting to her meant that those last hills (and there were quite a few at the end) flew past, instead of being a complete slog.
Last but not least, as everyone who knew the event had promised, the homemade cakes at the midpoint feed station were divine!
Simply put, I felt pleasantly zombified and relaxed and uplifted by 40 miles in the saddle. I started writing this post that day, in a state of bliss and satisfaction, and physical and psychological well-being.
It’s more fun and a good motivation to do it with someone else who can kindly but firmly nudge your butt in the right direction when needed. Or we can even do the butt-nudging ourselves, if we know someone else is involved.
Also, how many of us find it difficult to make the time to get our bodies moving?
I had discovered the hard way the cost of not making time for cycling.
In mid-March, after a busy and buzzy start to the year work-wise, I had a sort of crash. My mood took a nosedive, I was doing lots of comfort eating, sleeping more, not feeling excited by much. I had been on a kind of high of buzz about a number of developing ideas, but could feel that trying to keep so many plates spinning at once – or grow that many new ideas at the same time – simply wasn’t sustainable. It was quite a shock to come down this hard, and at the worst times I gave myself a hard time about it and isolated myself far too much for my own good.
When I did think about what had led to the mood crash though, I realised that one thing that had gone out the window was the exercise – I’d done barely any cycling or running or serious hill walking since November. I’d seriously missed how good in myself the cycling had helped me feel. The crash came as a valuable reminder that I needed to make the effort to put cycling and moving about firmly back in the calendar, and commit to it. So entering these cycling events, and starting to go out with the club again, as well as on my own, have all been part of restoring the balance. I’m not as fit as I would like to be, or as I was last year, but at least I’m headed in the right direction.
Funny how those gremlins keep coming back though. Just now I’ve had to push through to finish writing this, and do so in time for me to get out for a run. So I’d better get going out the door now before the Gremlins gang up!
If any of this sounds familiar to you, join the conversation below. Where are you at with your self-care? What do you do that sustains and nourishes you? Or is there something you’re thinking of adding to your routine for your well-being? I’d love to hear from you.